Olympus SP-590UZ Review

April 2, 2009 | Mark Goldstein | |

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#1 ciare harte

this camera looks AMAZING!! how much are we looking at?

3:50 pm - Thursday, April 2, 2009

#2 Leon van den Broek

The camera supports micro sd cards via a supplied adapter. See also the sticker on top of the camera!

4:22 pm - Thursday, April 2, 2009

#3 Herman Bavinck

I’m happy with this camera (and with this rewiew). Im slightly dissapointend with the noise being significant as form 400 ISO onwards. I am missing the RAW format. For the latter perhaps Olympus could readjust with a firm update!

10:11 pm - Thursday, April 2, 2009

#4 kamera gue

In my opinion, the direct competitor for SP-590UZ are :
> Pentax X70
> Nikon P90
> Kodak Z980

2:21 am - Friday, April 3, 2009

#5 Melinda Shackelford

I am trying to decide on the Olympus SP-590UZ or the Panasonic DMC-FZ28. Any feedback? I am buying for a trip to Alaska. I currently have an old Panasonic FZ5 and have used Olympus film cameras in the past. I haven’t used RAW for editing pictures in the past, just use Picasso. Any advice would be appreciated.

11:37 pm - Friday, April 3, 2009

#6 Alan

I have a different problem.  I currently have an Olympus C-570 (or is a 575?) with a 10X.  I was thinking of going to a Canon XSi, but skipping the packaged lens because I hear the quality is not great.  I would by a separate lens, 18-135mm, instead.  The price would be about twice as much.

I want the best possible image quality.  My question, is the Canon XSi that much better to warrant the price?

12:05 am - Saturday, April 4, 2009

#7 Allen Robertson

I’d go to Adorama and get a Nikon D40 refurbished package that includes camera,lens,8GB memory card,spare battery,lowepro case and another card all for only $445. This camera kit will give you far superior photos for the same price as the Olympus camera.

12:16 am - Saturday, April 4, 2009

#8 Jan Nieuwenhuis

Would be interesting to see it perform with the TCON !

1:10 pm - Saturday, April 4, 2009

#9 Robert Kuhlmann

What’s the battery life like? This is my first camera with 4-AA batteries, my Sony DSC-H5 has 2-AA with decent life. Now I’m using twice the amount of batteries, just curious.
And, with my being a novice in mind; the Lens, I noticed it was called ED lens, is Zuiko for different Olympus cameras. Would a Zuiko have been better here?

2:19 pm - Saturday, April 4, 2009

#10 Harb

How does SP 590 image quality compare to the Pentax x70. Does the X70 have better low light capability. Thanks

7:43 pm - Saturday, April 4, 2009

#11 Flo

Too much noise !!!

3:24 pm - Sunday, April 5, 2009

#12 Robert

How about lag time between shots?
I’ve been reading that start-up time is very fast…

4:09 pm - Sunday, April 5, 2009

#13 Phil Wallace

The Panasonic DMC-FZ28 is a 32.1X zoom on “Extended Optical Zoom” and the Olmpus SP-590UZ only achieves it’s 26X zoom at 3mp rather than 12mp - so which camera has the more powerful zoom lens?

5:14 pm - Monday, April 6, 2009

#14 melinda

I am really get confused now. I have narrowed it down to a Pentax x70, Olympus sp590 or the Nikon P90. I historically keep a camera 4 years so is it best to go for best zoom, most pixels or some of the new features like smile, eye blink, etc?

5:37 pm - Monday, April 6, 2009

#15 Phil Wallace

I’m as confused as you Melinda - I had a Panasonic DMC-LX1 and was very impressed. I want an ultra zoom for nature shots but can’t for the life of me figure who makes the most powerful zoom or which has the best image quality. I am suspicious of the 26x claim for the Olympus as that appears to be an “Extended Optical Zoom” as Panasonic would describe it. I’m hoping that someone on this form has the technical knowledge to settle the matter for me!

5:42 pm - Monday, April 6, 2009

#16 melinda

I agree on hoping someone has the technical knowledge. I had about settled on the Nikon and then I read a review that the Pentax blows it away on picture quality but that the “extra” were missing and more like an older camera. I may just go for the Panasonic. I love the pictures that my FZ5 takes, but sometimes is too slow, especially taking pictures of wildlife and children

5:48 pm - Monday, April 6, 2009

#17 Allen Robertson

Melinda again these so called super zoom cameras have way too many flaws in image quality compared to a DSLR like the Nikon D40 package I mentioned above. Long zooms mean nothing when the image quality is so poor especially and most importantly when you are not in a perfect light situation,which by the way, is most of the time. You will spend the same for the Nikon package I mentioned above, get far superior image quality and you will have a camera that you can expand on during the four years you normally own a camera. For example you can add a much longer zoom lens to the kit for about $180 in the future and then you will have to lenses with superior quality that you will enjoy for many many years.

5:59 pm - Monday, April 6, 2009

#18 Tim Andrews

With all due respect Allen, it’s possible that Melinda and Phil don’t like or want the size, cost or hassles of working with an SLR.  I understand that feeling.  I owned a beautiful 35mm Olympus SLR for close to 2 decades.  That’s what hooked me on Olympus.  Incredible pictures.  Several lenses, filters, large camera bag, etc.  BUT, my wife and kids would never use it, no matter how hard I tried.  I now own a C7070 and there was something for everyone.  The wife liked the Auto function and I loved the adjustments.  At least until my son dropped it on the lens and broke it recently.  Now I too am trying to decide on whether to fix it for essentially the cost to buy a new one.

9:06 pm - Monday, April 6, 2009

#19 melinda

You are right. We have a Canon DSLR and also a small “pocket” Canon. I want something in between those that has wide angle and zoom. Don’t want to carry a camera bag with multiple lenses. We also have a Panasonic DMC-FZ5 (which is what we are replacing).

9:54 pm - Monday, April 6, 2009

#20 Allen Robertson

Well with all due respect to Tim if he would have studied the specs. he would have seen that there is almost no difference in size between the D40 and this Olympus. The D40 with the kit lens weighs only 8ozs. more and ,when used in Auto mode, is as simple if not simpler to use than this camera. Also the cost of the D40 kit is the same as this Olympus. To top all of that off the image quality is far superior and you can take your time to learn how to use all of it’s many great options. In the long run what matters most is the the quality of the photos and the D40 gives you far superior image quality in all lighting conditions(Which is tremendously important) than any of these super zooms. You get better photos and as you learn more you can do more with the D40. It’s actually a no brainer.

10:06 pm - Monday, April 6, 2009

#21 Allen Robertson

Oh well I didn’t realize that Melinda already had a DSLR and just wanted to waste money on yet another camera. She would have to carry a bag to carry this Olympus camera anyway so that is not the issue. Rather than spend money on another camera just get the Tamron all in one zoom. Then you wouldn’t have to carry a bag of lenses. Leave the Tamron 18-270mm on at all times. It’s also a macro lens so it can do it all and the lens quality is much better than the lens on the Olympus. So it’s one camera,one lens,one camera bag and easy to use. This is of course assuming that image quality is the most important thing. If you want very mediocre quality photos then by all means get this or one of the other super zooms. These super zooms only give somewhat decent quality at the lowest ISO setting and in very bright light; outside of those conditions you might as well just use the small pocket camera you already have.

10:24 pm - Monday, April 6, 2009

#22 Tim Andrews

If you have the luxury of time, I would use it.  This CMOS issue could take a major leap forward (away from noise) as most of the camera mfg are working on it.  One idea I read about is moving the transistors to the back of the sensor, out of the way, allowing the CMOS sensor to gather light more efficiently.  This, and the tiny size of the ultra zoom sensors is the major cause of noise.  Of course, to get that massive range of focus, the sensors must be small, or the lenses must get bigger (diameter) proportionately.  Either way, I think a clear winner will begin to emerge soon, with features like Wide angle to big zoom, full HD video, RAW format, high speed shooting, AND “good” low light (ISO 400-800) performance.

10:24 pm - Monday, April 6, 2009

#23 Pierre Lehu

So this camera supports a wireless flash, but there doesn’t seem to be a shoe, hot or otherwise, so what are you supposed to do with this flash, hold it in your hand while you’re shooting? I have a Sony H-5 with “only” a 12x zoom, which seems enough for me, but when trying to take pictures indoors, like at a party, it takes far too long for the flash to charge. I love the idea of the extra zoom and wide angle, but the bottom line for me is to be able to use a separate flash that will charge faster than the ones on these cameras.

6:31 pm - Tuesday, April 7, 2009

#24 David Willis

Phil Wallace is incorrect where he says the 26X optical zoom is only available at 3 megapixels. The 26X zoom can produce pictures at 12 megapixels. Up to 39X with combined optical zoom + fine zoom at 3 megapixels using image cropping. 130X with combined optical and digital zoom but with obvious picture degradation.

7:36 pm - Tuesday, April 7, 2009

#25 Phil Wallace

Woops…looks like I misread the specs on the Olympus site = thanks for the correction David.

8:35 pm - Tuesday, April 7, 2009

#26 Grifster

What’s of point of going to the trouble of adding a HDMI port, without taking a step up to HD video? The Panasonic FZ28 offers HD footage. I think Olympus have missed a trick with this new model.

9:26 pm - Tuesday, April 7, 2009

#27 mark

I have narrowed my choice like some people to,
Olympus sp-590ouz or Nikon p90 or Pentax x70

I will be using it for shooting football games from the stands and movie clips from the stands.

Which one should I pick?

Thank you in advance.

7:03 pm - Thursday, April 9, 2009

#28 Steve B

RAW format: it won’t be missed!

I already own an SP550UZ and I’ve done a lot of noise testing on it (compared to proper SLRs). The RAW function is utterly pointless - there is so much noise, in fact 2 bits of even at ISO64. This makes 12 bit RAW redundant because the noise has already swamped the any useful benefit the 12-bit RAW brings; the 590 can only be worse. Proper SLR imagers (that I’ve tested) have far less than 1 bit of noise.

I’ve just brought the sp590uz (from Amazon, arrives Tuesday), and I already have the Tcon17. I’ll let you know how the new camera compares. I suspect it might be diffraction limited at full zoom (assuming perfect optics), even with the widest aperture setting.

10:10 pm - Thursday, April 9, 2009

#29 Melinda Shackelford


I found this link to pictures taken on the new Pentax X70.

10:45 pm - Thursday, April 9, 2009

#30 Steve B

Thank you Melinda for linking the X70 samples. Unfortunately those photos have been scaled down by a factor of 8 (64 pixels crammed into 1), therefore you can’t really determine important effects like fringing, noise or optical detail.

This is why the better sites (such as this one) shows the crop of an image (or the image in its entirety) - you can only determine system performance when viewing images at the original and native pixel level.

3:41 pm - Friday, April 10, 2009

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7:01 am - Saturday, April 11, 2009

#32 Tim Andrews


Even though the images are tiny, the noise is quite obvious in the turtle background at ISO 400 and above.  At full size it will probably look quite bad.

3:46 pm - Monday, April 13, 2009

#33 Mark

What I’d like to see is a dark exposure i.e. with the lens cap on.  If some one could do this for 5mins @ each ISO setting I’d be grateful.  I’d like to use this cam for astrophotography, I’m not overly interested in the big zoom and I’ll probably use the lower resolution settings so that presumably the pixels are binned to give better sensitivity.  So again if some one is willing to take the above shots get back here with a view to sending me the files for analysis I’d be grateful. Thanks in advance.

3:29 pm - Tuesday, April 14, 2009

#34 bluesky

this digital camera is pretty nice , I just bought it at http://www.tradestead.com
it works pretty nice ,I like it very much!

10:22 am - Wednesday, April 15, 2009

#35 Steve B

I’ve had the 590 for a few days now and done enough testing (I’m an engineer) to say the following with confidence. The camera compares very well against the earlier predecessors from Olympus, especially at full zoom. The 590 is better than my 550 with Tcon17 (resolves the same but with far less abberation). I’ve not yet tried the 590 with the Tcon17 (waiting for the CLA11 adaptor), I suspect the combination won’t be that good.

Oh yes, I’ve determined the resolving power. The theoretical Dawes limit (without the Tcon17) is 3.3 arc seconds. The 590 has resolved to about 4 arc seconds at full zoom at f5 – that’s not bad at all! Moreover, the resolving power dives when the aperture is reduced (f8) – I was right: it is indeed diffraction limited.

To those who buy these superzoom cameras:
Leave the aperture as wide as possible (lowest f number) when at full zoom otherwise you WILL blur your photo.

To Olympus, Panasonic et al:
Don’t bother giving greater telephoto zoom, or increase the imager resolution, without first designing in a bigger objective.

Noise is still a problem with the 590, so there really is no need for the RAW format.

7:50 pm - Saturday, April 18, 2009

#36 Steve B

Something I’ve realised about this camera, it is an outdoor toy. You can’t really make use of its capability indoors, and it also suffers from being so bulky. However, it comes into it’s own when you want zoom to catch subjects at their most natural (even those who are camera-shy), the light is good and you don’t mind taking a carry case, such as: at BBQs, sports events, bird watching, even for lunar astronomy.

I suspect the long distance detail is better than a typically good SLR with a Tamron 18-270mm (7.7x) lens. The choice of camera depends on how you envisage your usage. Low light isn’t too much of a problem either due to the optical stabilisation feature (you won’t find that on a 35mm wide zoom range lenses without spending money), so you can afford to use lower noise ISO settings.

Actually, I have a friend (a real enthusiast, he enters photo competitions and such) who got tired of carrying around 3 lenses for his SLR. We went out to an event together he saw just how flipping convenient my 550 was – in fact I was getting the shots he was missing because of the setting up he had to do. For all the money he spent, I was the one getting the shots. Immediately afterwards he got himself a super-zoom camera too. Try telling him it was a no brainer!

Sorry Mark, I’m not holding down the shutter for 5 minutes, multiple times.

5:37 pm - Sunday, April 19, 2009

#37 Robert

Steve B, thanks for your input, I have a few questions if you don’t mind;
1. How’s the lag time between shots?
2. I basically use Auto feature, how’s that IQ at the far end?
3. How are the four batteries lasting?
I heard start-up time is fairly quick….

5:50 pm - Sunday, April 19, 2009

#38 Mark

Hi Steve thanks for noticing my post.  Is there a remote/lockable release for when doing those sort of shots you don’t want to touch the camera, or would it be possible to do a minute exposure on ISO100 and the highest ISO6400 just to give an idea.  If it’s an issue of batteries not lasting have can you use an external PSU?  Also it’s not overly obvious but can this cam be used as a webcam as well as a storage device?

5:52 pm - Sunday, April 19, 2009

#39 Steve B


1: About 1 shot per second using a class 6 microSDHC card at 12MP in sequential mode. “Burst mode” is a bit of a misnomer, but it is fair for a compact. The quality settings have to be decimated to go quicker: you get about 5 shots per second at 5MP ISO400.
2: I never use the auto mode; I like to ram the ISO as low as possible. What do you mean by “far end”?
3: Heh, as I was testing the burst mode for you the battery warning came up. My 3200mAH batteries have lasted a good while. I know I did well over 100 shots in just one sitting. I didn’t count the total, but I reckon I took 400-500 shots (amongst a lot of setting up and playback), maybe 40 of those with flash, and a little bit of video.

Start up time is much quicker than its predecessors, a fraction over 2 seconds before the first photo can be taken. I would say it’s on par with typical modern compacts. Obviously SLRs are lightning fast in that respect.


The camera will only give up to 15 seconds timed exposure. Bulb mode only works at ISO64 setting. Doing a shot in total darkness is a problem because the camera ejects the lenscap off when operating. I’ll try to take one when I go to bed.

Be warned: do you know about offsets of the analogue to digital converter within these imagers? These are usually setup to prevent noise from showing for black shots (I’ve previously done a lot of testing of this characteristic).
I’m surprised you would want long exposures for astrophotography. I’ve been out this evening taking photos of various celestial objects (no moon tonight unfortunately). Given the monsterous zoom of this thing, stars were panning a lot even with a mere 4-second exposure.

There is no mention of this being able to be used as a webcam within the manual. This isn’t surprising because it shows as a normal external drive when connected to a PC; at least it can be used as a shortage device (USB2.0, speed seemingly limited by your card).

12:54 am - Monday, April 20, 2009

#40 Robert

Thanks Steve-
You are wayyy ahead of me with photography, I basically use my camera (Sony DSC-H5) when I go on vacation, for instance, Africa, and use my zoom to get those far away animal pic’s. And I pretty much just stick with the ‘Auto’ settings. Burst is even beyond my comprehension, I assume from what you mentioned that lag-time between shots, even in ‘auto’ mode, would be fairly quick(?), hopefully to catch that animal before he runs…
Would you say at highest zoom (or even 20X) in ‘auto’ mode the image quality is still fairly good?
My Sony DSC-H5 is 12X, and I do love it! I was just thinking of going that next step to 26X.
I had thought, briefly, about the Pentax X70 or Nikon P90, but I just don’t like those Li-ion batteries and I’ve always had a soft spot for Olympus. Any help is appreciated!
Much thanks,

1:48 am - Monday, April 20, 2009

#41 Mark

Steve, thanks for trying if you got chance.  As I said in an earlier msg I wasn’t interested in the zoom capabilities.  What I can/will do, however, is mount the camera on my telescope which tracks the stars so doing long exposures isn’t a problem.  If the exposure is only 15secs (same as my old Fuji602) then this cam might be worth it.  I don’t think ISO64 will enough sensitivity to pick up what I’m after.  You might be surprise how much you pickup @ wide angle in a dark sky.  I don’t tend to take pics when the moon is up it floods everything else out.

8:34 pm - Monday, April 20, 2009

#42 Steve B


I suspect your Sony would be on par with my old 550 (14.4x telephoto). Long distance IQ is definitely a step up with the 590, but I’m not sure the typical person would think it worth spending the money when you already have a respectable long zoom camera (but I’m far from typical).
Note: the 590 actually gives a 19.3x telephoto zoom. Don’t be confused with the ‘26x’ figure, that one merely denotes the zoom range: the difference between wide and telephoto.
Sequential photo mode isn’t available in auto mode. The best rate you can expect is one shot every 2 seconds.
I can’t help you with a comparison to Pentax or Nikon. I went with Oly yet again because I’ve got other Oly kit, and I too have a soft spot :c) However, I won’t continue with them unless they sort out a decent sized objective!

10:45 pm - Monday, April 20, 2009

#43 Steve B


A tracking mount sounds nice! How much are they?
I once tried mounting my 550 onto a scope, I never got any good results.
I don’t think there is a way to take exposures longer than 15 sec without actually holding down the shutter button.

I’ve done some basic noise testing.
In each case, the noise reduction feature was used (actually it was mandatory in two of the cases, just as well because the image really suffers without it). In case you don’t know: this is where the camera takes a second photo with the shutter closed and subtracts that away from the first image; this cancels out pixel leakage (and it works pretty well. Obviously, photos now take twice as long!

@ ISO6400 for 15 secs: noise spread is about 20 bits (a lot)
@ ISO64 for 15 secs: practically no measurable noise
@ ISO64 for 300 secs: noise spread is about 0 bits, but a few pixels register up to 5 bits (so very little overall noise), but there is leakage at the corners of the imager.

I agree with what you say about ISO64 (especially when considering the ADC offset).
I think ISO6400 could be too noisy for you. I can share them if you can suggest a good, no-hassle hosting site.

10:56 pm - Monday, April 20, 2009

#44 Mark

Steve, thanks for taking some shots.  So do I understand that you can take <8min exposures if you keep your finger on the button as in a true Buld mode at any ISO setting or is it just on ISO64?  I made my own mount it’s of a type called German Equatorial most proper telescopes have this type of mount.  It’s design means that when aligned you only need to move it in one direction for visual use, you will need to do some minor corrections for long photo exposures (mins and more).  If you do a quick search for Celestron and equatorial telescope you should get an idea of what they look like.  AltAzimuth mounts (as used for basic telscopes) only work for short exposures and you have to move them in 2 directions, i.e. they don’t rotate parallel to the earth’s axis.  What we can do with these new digital cams is to take shorter exposures and add them together, also taking several dark exposures and averageing them and subtracting the noise image from the actual summed image gives very nice results.  Also a flat field is also taken and subtracted from the image, this is to remove any vignetting and other brightness errors.  Also some correction of star movements can be compensated with the software that does the adding together of images.  I don’t know of any sites that are good for hosting pics never used one.  Perhaps a news group that has photos in?  Although I don’t use news groups either any more.  Haven’t microsoft got a photosharing site mixed in with msn somewhere?

12:14 am - Tuesday, April 21, 2009

#45 Barry

hello all, I am a novice at photography and looking to replace my 3.1mp 4x zoom kodak easyshare dx6340. I am taking a trip to Jamaica this summer and I often attend car shows with my antique car. Also I ride motorcycles in charity events a dozen times a year and ride with 400 to 1500 others bikers. anyhow I am blown away by these new cameras, I knew mine was old but wow these new ones are awsome. I got to play with this in the store and use the panarama feature. This was very easy to use and the picture came out great. I think it will make a good picture with my old car lined up with others, or my bike surrounded by hundreds of other bikes. I like the fact it has a timelapse photography. This is the camera my local dealer recomends. I am still looking but this camera seems like it will be hard to beat.

3:38 am - Tuesday, April 21, 2009

#46 Tim

Stevie B,

Please post some samples when you get around to using the Tcon 1.7x w/ the Oly 590. Thank you

1:11 pm - Tuesday, April 21, 2009

#47 Steve B


Bulb mode only works on ISO64, the other ISO settings only allow timed exposure of up to 15 seconds.
I’ve looked into these mounts (thanks for the info), wow they’re expensive. However, I am very interested in software that will automatically adjust and overlay multiple images together to form one ‘averaged’ image. Can you recommend anything – especially freeware?

One this camera does, as Barry touched upon, is take time-lapse images (from 1 to 99 minute intervals, for up to 99 shots). I’ve had a great laugh with this feature, from following rain showers and melting snow, to putting the camera on a shelf at parties and leaving it to take photos of the evening.
I’ve done some quick testing: I can set the camera to take ISO200 shots with 15 second exposures (followed by the 15 second exposure for noise reduction), every minute. If I don’t use full zoom and put the images through some good software, it should yield some great photos of the night sky. The camera can take constant sequential shots (if a way to hold down the shutter can be found), but the noise reduction feature is disabled – which is a bad thing.

If you’re brave enough to post your email address I’ll email the requested images to you.

12:30 pm - Wednesday, April 22, 2009

#48 Steve B


I was comparing my old C750 (3.9MP, 10x zoom) to my new 590 the other day - what a difference! Now would be a very good time for you to invest in a new camera. You get a lot of value for money from compacts these days.

This camera seems rugged enough for carrying around (and your biking around), but you have to treat it with care when you are actually using it. The only major design flaw with the 590 (which some of its predecessor also suffered from) is the loose telescopic barrel; a slight vibration or touching the barrel can easily ruin what was a perfectly focussed shot. It will catch you out if you hold the camera wrong, but this is something I’ve gotten used to avoiding. Never touch the barrel once you’ve composed your shot; if you do, recompose your shot.

If you get a chance to do a comparison with the other long-zoom cameras, we would all like to know what you conclude.

12:43 pm - Wednesday, April 22, 2009

#49 Steve B


I’ve had a technical glitch with delivery of my CLA11 adaptor. It will be at least a week before I get my hands on it (it has to go to a different address and be reposted to me). I can’t just hold the Tcon17 on the camera barrel because the looseness of the barrel ruins the shot.

12:52 pm - Wednesday, April 22, 2009

#50 Mark

Hi Steve, 2 packages spring to mind are   “Registax3D” and “DeepSkyStacker” if you a quick search for these you’ll get the download sites etc.  You may need to take a course on how to use them but they’re the one people use.  You can e-mail me on a throw away e-mail addr marcus_brutus2000 at yahoopointcom.  If you can sort that out from what I’ve written.  I might now have to look at the Panasonic Lumis DMC FZ28 instead, they have a starry night feature where you can do a 1min exposure, presumably @ all ISO’s
and has similar specs i.e. macro and reasonable zoom just a shame it’s got a proprietry battry pack.

7:09 pm - Wednesday, April 22, 2009

#51 Steve B

Hi Mark.

Email sent; it hasn’t bounced back.
Let us know what you think of the Lumix.

9:10 pm - Wednesday, April 22, 2009

#52 Pam D.

I need help adjusting the f-stop in this camera. I have been trying to adjust it down as low as possible (2.8). But, in every mode it simply readjusts itself to a higher number as soon as I point it toward my intended target. I want to take a photo of my daughter with the background blurred. From my understanding, if the f-stop is low, then it should happen. Any help is appreciated!! :)

6:05 pm - Saturday, April 25, 2009

#53 Steve B


- Rotate the function dial until the ‘A’ is on the white marker (to the left of the dial) to enter “aperture priority” mode (this is the mode I always use).
- Press the up (white balance) button above the OK/FUNC button to enter the aperture adjust menu.
- Press up or down to adjust as desired (press down to widen the aperture to minimise depth of field).
- Press OK/FUNC butting to accept.
- Take your photo.

You can also do it in M mode (fully manual), but then the aperture adjustment is via the left and right buttons. In this mode you will also have to set the exposure (now via the up/down buttons).

Note: you can’t get to f2.8 when setting the optical zoom towards telephoto. At full zoom the lowest you can go is f5.0.

Note 2: F2.8 isn’t a large aperture so the background won’t be very strongly blurred; you’ll bet the best effect when the subject is as close to the camera as possible.

11:18 pm - Saturday, April 25, 2009

#54 Steve B

oops, when I said white balance I should have said the exposure adjust (plus/minus) button.

11:20 pm - Saturday, April 25, 2009

#55 Fowley

Hi All,

just wanted to drop by and say I’ve had one of these for a week now and I am so impressed by it. In terms of price v features v quality, it’s the best camera I have ever owned.

I was thinking of getting a DSLR, but I love doing zoom and Macro photography .. with the extra lenses I would have had to buy it would have cost a fortune. So I settled for this.

I went out the other night to take some LONG exposures of traffic and stars (used BULB mode with remote) a friend came along with his Canon EOS (with the intention of putting me in my place), apart from the fact I was taking photos while he was still getting ready.. my photos were on par if not better than his.

This is a good camera ...without doubt

I only have 2 gripes .. both aimed at Olympus, should anyone be reading

1: PLEASE do a firmware upgrade and add RAW support.

2: FOR THE LOVE OF GOD .. please switch to Li-Ion batteries, even with rechargables i’m going through batteries like anything. (Long Exposures kill the batteries)...

4:52 pm - Sunday, April 26, 2009

#56 Steve B

Hi Fowley.

1) RAW really isn’t needed; the imager is way too noisy, even at ISO64. The jpeg process takes away much of the noise you see in the final photos. Don’t even think about comparing RAW noise performance against a good DLSR! (see my post #28)

2) The capacity of the best Ni-MH rechargeables are on par with Li-Ion, I use 3200mAh cells. What capacity cells are you using?

I’ve done some quick current measurements of my 590 (at ~6V):

Off: 2ma
Idle: 310mA
Idle with full-time AF: 450mA
Shutter halfway/exposure, no IS: 360mA
Shutter halfway /exposure, with IS: 570mA
(screen intensity setting doesn’t make much difference).

If you’re doing long exposures and keeping the camera still with a tripod, turn off the optical IS function – that one eats current. The IS system will still move the imager around, even when no external movement is applied, so resulting with a very slightly blurred image anyway. Also, disable full-time AF; don’t even think about AF predict!!

7:52 pm - Sunday, April 26, 2009

#57 Bob Barber

Hi everyone,

Thanks for the information on this camera.  I found this site because I am thinking of buying it.  I’m not sure that I’m sold, mostly because of the raw issue and the plasticky build.  Maybe the raw really isn’t an issue as far as improving noise, as Steve B pointed out, but it’s definitely useful for white balance errors.

I already own an Olympus C7070WZ and an E-510.  Reading the comments here inspired me to write a short post for my brand new blog, http://www.bob-barber.com.  Basically I make a case for point and shoots over DSLRs in many situations.  I carry my C7070WZ more than I carry my E-510.  I call any camera with a tiny sensor and without interchangeable lenses a point and shoot.  So even though the C7070WZ and this camera are marketed as prosumer, bridge cameras, etc., they are point and shoots to me.

6:01 pm - Wednesday, April 29, 2009

#58 eric64

I try to compare the SP 590 UZ to Canon SX1IS,Nikon P 90 and the new Sony DSC-HX1. What’s the catch?
It seems me that a tiltable LCD is missing on the SP 590 UZ,this is a very usefull feature whenyou take ground level pictures.

5:53 pm - Tuesday, May 5, 2009

#59 Dave

I just bought the Olympus SP-590 and so far pretty happy w/ the pictures/features. As for the comment re: battery, initially I also prefer Li-Ion battery. I did a comparison w/ Nikon P90 prior to buying the Oly (Nikon has the Li-Ion battery and also tiltable LCD). I have been taking more than 400 pictures (almost all w/ zoom and some w/ flash) w/o a need to recharge yet (I use regular NiMH rechargeable AA batteries that came as a package when I purchased the camera) thus was pleasantly surprised. I read several reviews that Nikon P90 Li-Ion battery can take an average of only 200 shots.

3:00 am - Sunday, May 17, 2009

#60 Pete

I recently bought one of these, largly because I need a versatile camera that I can take when I travel around.  Very pleased so far, several quirks - the camera allows digital zoom - but only at the lowest resolution.  Another one is that if you do not format the card, you lose 75% of its capacity.  Biggest drawback is that you cannot use optical zoom with movie mode.  You can get a bit of digital zoom, about X2.
The mega zoom works quite well but you do need good lighting conditions and to be on high rresolution.

5:53 pm - Thursday, June 4, 2009

#61 Gabriel

Why didn’t they make it with decent filter screw thread, much more convenient and solid, by the way!

2:28 pm - Saturday, June 6, 2009

#62 carolyn

I have the Olympus 550UZ and I am looking at the 590UZ. I am a zoom junkie, SteveB would you say the 590 makes a big difference? I am not satisfied with the 550UZ for getting bird pictures in my backyard. I want to be able to zoom in and then crop if necessary and still have a picture that is not blurred. I am hoping with 12mg and 26x zoom I would be happy . . . at least for a few years. I also wondered if keeping the 550 and adding TCON 17 made sense as well. I just read some reviews that said you cannot zoom out to the full 26x without a tripod, have you found that to be true?

4:59 pm - Wednesday, June 10, 2009

#63 Randall Haugen

I have this camera and a older but better Canon SX10 1S,,The Canon is the far better choice IMO.

Takes cheaper Cards and has better battery life.
As far as the Lens Canon even though its a 20x Zoom takes better pics with less blur and is easier to operate.
The Olympus SP-590UZ is a good camera if you can find it for 325.oo or so.The Olympus SP-590UZ has promise as lenses get bigger and bigger,but this time they dropped the ball. So my advice is get the Canon.

2:19 pm - Saturday, June 20, 2009

#64 Varun

The Olympus SP-590UZ is the Deal, a Good point and Shoot with a little feel of DSLR yes the 26X Zoom power make this camera a worth deal even a noob like me can click a awesome pics with this cam so my all votes goes to this camera.

The other unique features of this cam is their different different modes like Beauty Mode as the review mention “The Hollywood Feel” and look and feel of this cam is convince the buyer to buy this.

Well, Only thing to add on this is Buy this camera because it’s worth it!

4:55 am - Wednesday, June 24, 2009

#65 Steve B


Your comment of “the camera allows digital zoom - but only at the lowest resolution.” is incorrect. The camera does give you digital zoom at ANY resolution, but only when you’ve used up all your optical zoom.

I’ve used several new cards with this camera without formatting them first and I’ve had no problems.

You are right about movie mode. You cannot zoom or use the mechanical optical stabilisation when the sound is being recorded. Apparently this is to do with unacceptable noise pickup from the moving optics (I would prefer to take my chances).

8:38 pm - Wednesday, June 24, 2009

#66 Steve B


The full zoom detail of the 590 is very noticeably better than the 550; there is more detail (say of the moon) - my finger in the air estimate: I reckon there is about twice the detail; that’s not a colossal amount more.

I have the Tcon17 (with the CLA-11). You do get better resolving power with the external lens, but the image isn’t that much better – it’s quite soft at full zoom (and you have to use it at high zoom otherwise the image is cropped) and there is more colour fringing; the focus sometimes struggles too. Again the problem is probably with the loose barrel of the camera - it doesn’t align properly with the external lens (I can see it is offset when I look straight into it). I’m currently machining an adaptor that forces the barrel to be in perfect alignment with the external lens – watch this space!

Do I think it is worth trading in the 550 with the 590 and the tcon17 ... only for real zoom junkies. If you do, you should seriously consider using an external trigger and a tripod for low light level shots.

9:02 pm - Wednesday, June 24, 2009

#67 Steve B

Something else:

The 590 accepts an external trigger (a must for long exposures and full zoom), so I bought one with a flexible timer (£30 via ebay). I’ve been taking thousands of photos per session to make awesome HD time-lapse videos (using the free photolapse software).

So far my 590 has taken nearly 70,000 photos :D

9:10 pm - Wednesday, June 24, 2009

#68 Ludmilla

How are you. When we got into office, the thing that surprised me the most was that things were as bad as we’d been saying they were. Help me! Looking for sites on: Dodge dealers in new york. I found only this - minneapolis Dodge dealers. Our davie, fl dodge dealership always has a wide selection and low prices. Dodge avenger driver falls short of winning first canadian nascar race by anthony fontanelledodge avenger driver mark dilley failed in his bid to win the first nascar race in canada at the dodge dealers. Thanks for the help :eek:, Ludmilla from Uruguay.

5:04 am - Sunday, July 5, 2009

#69 Heather

A bit of a novice and upgrading from a basic point and shoot compact. Going on safari and looking for something to take with us for general usage and of course for animal shots. It would help if I could also take movie shots. I have looked at the Olympus and also the Panasonic DMC FZ28. Any help appreciated!

12:13 pm - Friday, July 10, 2009

#70 Helen

I feel a bit stupid asking this, but how do I set it to take Hi1 and Hi2 sequential shots.  When I go to drive it only gives me sequential, AF and BKT (and I’ve set it to SCN sports mode and cranked the image down to 3M)

8:16 pm - Tuesday, August 18, 2009

#71 Pete D.

I’m new to digital photgraphy. What is the difference between the two compression levels that are offered at every megapixel setting?

11:30 pm - Friday, August 21, 2009

#72 Ash

Just bought one! Very pleased so far, as I was used to Samsung compact cameras. I’m no technobuff on all the new features, but thats part of the fun! For the record, my Samsung 10mp compact still takes a superb pic, especially on super-macro setting!

6:16 pm - Sunday, August 30, 2009

#73 rpw

How is this any better than the Canon Powershot SX20?
Which was rated:

Canon Powershot SX20:
Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4
Features 4.5
Ease-of-use 4
Image Quality 3.5
Value for money 3.5

Olympus SP-590UZ:
Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4.5
Features 4.5
Ease-of-use 4.5
Image Quality 4
Value for money 4.5

Canon IQ review:
“The Canon PowerShot SX20 IS’s main drawback in terms of image quality is noise, with ISO 400 showing some noise, blurring of detail and slight colour desaturation. The noise and loss of detail get progressively worse as you go from ISO 800 to the fastest 1600 setting”

Olympus IQ review:
” The 1/2.33 inch, 12 megapixel sensor recorded noise-free images at ISO 64 and 100, but there’s already some noise and slight loss of saturation at ISO 200. ISO 400 shows more noise and some obvious softening of fine detail, and ISO 800 and 1600 are even worse, with lots of noise and a very washed-out look. The fastest speeds of ISO 3200 and 6400 are recorded at a reduced resolution and simply aren’t worth using.”

Olympus starts show problems as ISO 200 where the Canon starts at ISO 400.

Canon chromatic handling:
“The Canon PowerShot SX20 IS handled chromatic aberrations quite well with some purple fringing effects appearing in high contrast situations.”

Olympus chromatic handling:
“The Olympus SP-590UZ dealt extremely well with chromatic aberrations, with limited purple fringing effects appearing only in high contrast situations.”

But they gives Olympus a 4 for IQ and Canon a 3.5.

If anything I think they should have the same rating or Canon should be rated a bit higher.

1:38 am - Friday, September 18, 2009

#74 Thomas James Godfrey

After using point and shoot digital this Camera blew me into orbit.The zoom is outstanding even outside the recommended for quality, but a pod is needed at full. The panoramic recognition is great but you cant use it on a delayed shutter unless you can tell me different. I only a beginner bur Cracking value for money 10/10 . . . . . Over the moon “

11:24 pm - Tuesday, November 17, 2009

#75 martin parker

Great camera shame about the crap manual, still cant work out how it takes pictures quickly like some sports modes

11:07 am - Tuesday, November 24, 2009

#76 Tean

Is it rechargeable ?

7:20 pm - Monday, December 7, 2009

#77 r4i software

I’ve had this camera now for about a month, and am generally very pleased with it. If your photo interest is wildlife or birds, it’s a great choice.

2:05 pm - Saturday, December 19, 2009

#78 H Fenner


Have just had an Olympus SP 590UZ for Christmas to replace my Fuji Finepix SD1800, which I loved. I take a lot of photographs at live music gigs and wonder what might be the best setting on this camera to avoid too much grain/noise?

5:43 pm - Saturday, December 26, 2009

#79 connell

According to me, Olympus SP-590 UZ is an average camera. It is a 12 mp camera. Design and features wise, its has nothing new to offer. The one good thing is the MyMode feature. The speed of this camera is very good. The photo quality is not very satisfying. If money is not a problem, go with a high-end model. For more details refer http://www.digitaldesires.net/olympus-sp-590-uz-26x-optical-zoom-but-bad-photo-quality.html

8:16 am - Wednesday, January 13, 2010

#80 Hayley

Hello everyone - can anyone please humour my thickness of brain and possibly enlighten me on the following:

I have just purchased this camera on impulse and am struggling to figure it out.  I want it to take continuous pictures automatically via the self timer.  Can it do this????

Also - why is it telling me memory is full after only 8 pictures?  That can’t be it surely?  Does that mean if I go out I can only take 8 photographs and it’s full?????  What have I actually paid all that money for then?

Thanks alot and someone please get back to me!!!

11:44 am - Wednesday, March 3, 2010

#81 kunjmann

Hi Steve and Hayley,

I guess you are still using 590 which I plan to buy soon. I want to know if it can be operated by a remote and the truth about the controversies over it’s image quality. How it performs indoors and what is the solution for low light conditions? Can it compare with new Fuji HS10?

12:11 pm - Monday, March 29, 2010

#82 Jamil Sayed

I like to suggest to go for Nikon P100 with CMOS sensor. It is the latest and much improved model from Nikon.

8:21 am - Thursday, April 15, 2010

#83 Mark

OK, lets keep it simple :

Between this and Canon SX20 IS, whatz the best?

2:24 pm - Tuesday, May 25, 2010

#84 Blah

I know someone who has one of these. They basically never use it because the colour reproduction is poor :(

8:42 pm - Tuesday, July 6, 2010

#85 Chris

I think that the Olympus is a good camera for the money owned for approx 1yr, astro photography is a blast, (tri-pod) and timed mode recomended at full digital optical zoom, also nature/wildlife is impresive, I would say that the major drawback for me is the time it takes to take another photo after utilising multi shot modes (lag), I would recomend one, if your not a pro

2:18 pm - Tuesday, May 17, 2011

#86 Anoop M

My Olympus SP 59Ouz is only clicking when taking photos. When we open the photo “Picture Error” Command is shown. what to do.. It’s not able to photo in any modes.. But video mode is working.. Any solution for this problem ?????

7:52 pm - Sunday, January 6, 2013

Entry Tags

12 megapixel, beginner, 2.7 inch LCD, ultra-zoom, 26x zoom, advanced